Sasol, stated in March 2007 that it would not sell its Olefins & Surfactants (O&S) division but rather maximise value in the business through a rigorous turnaround process. In a first step of this process, Sasol today announced that it will shut down its linear alkyl benzene (LAB) plants in Baltimore (Maryland), USA and Porte Torres (Sardegna), Italy for an indefinite period of time.
Sasol is a major producer of LAB and the biggest single merchant producer of linear alkyl benzene sulfonate (LAS) in Europe. LAB is the feedstock for LAS, an essential surfactant ingredient for the detergents industry.
"We will continue to serve our customers from our LAB facilities at Augusta (Sicily), Italy and Lake Charles (Louisiana), USA, where we will further optimise plant throughput and reduce costs," says Guido Safran, vice- president Sasol Alkylates and Surfactants.
According to Safran the global LAB industry in recent years has been subject to high and volatile feedstock prices. He said that Sasol is committed to the future of the LAB/LAS business and continued customer support.
"The closing of the head office in Bad Homburg is part of our program to streamline the organisation and reduce cost. Other options to further restructure the O&S division are under consideration and will be implemented when appropriate," says Hannes Botha, MD of Sasol O&S.
Since the termination of previously planned divestiture of the O&S Business earlier this year, Sasol has identified restructuring and other opportunities to improve the business performance of its O&S division. It intends, after consultation with stakeholders, to implement these over the next three to five years.